Derby City Council will continue to lobby for support of its proposal to increase business rates on larger out of town retailers, despite receiving a negative response from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government last week.
Twenty-three Local Authorities in England are in support of National Asian Business Association's bid to fight for local high streets, as well as organisations including Public and Commercial Services Union, The National Federation of Sub-Postmasters, Living Streets, Locality, UNISON, Sustainable Food Cities, The Campaign for Better Transport and Action for Market Towns.
Councillor Ranjit Banwait, Leader of Derby City Council says of the response from the Secretary of State, “This is an all too familiar response from a government Minister who holds everything local government stands for in contempt. Our proposal under the Sustainable Communities Act, calling for an increase in business rates on out of town retail outlets is not lazy - it’s in response to what our local businesses are telling us, that it’s time those companies earning millions of pounds each year put more of their profits back into the local community.”
Despite this setback, the Council promises continue its campaign for change. It is estimated the levy will cost less than 0.1% of supermarket income, making it almost impossible for the levy to be passed on to consumers.
It is a well-known fact that large retail outlets have a negative impact on local shops, jobs and businesses: over 80% of independent shops on our high streets have closed, including local butchers, fishmongers, greengrocers and bakeries. Meanwhile, the number of larger stores [2,320+ square meters] located out-of-town increased from just under 300 in 1980, to more than 700 by 1990, and to almost 1,500 in 2007 (Competition Commission 2008).
One of the great benefits from investing in our local high streets is that they in turn reinvest in their community. Half of the turnover of an independent local retailer goes back into the local community, whilst the figure from supermarkets is just 5% (Federation of Small Businesses 2008 Keep Trade Local Manifesto).
The Council is to host a NABA Conference on Thursday 20 November in Derby at their request to put further pressure on government to look again at our proposal. Uday Dholakia, Chairman of the National Asian Business Association (NABA), says of the proposal, “The aim of the conference is to galvanise support for a considered and well structured super market levy proposition that will actually enable local authority intervention in support of small retailers. NABA’s stance is not anti-multiples. We welcome the choice and value they offer and the jobs they create and lately the access they have been giving to Asian businesses to their supply chain. NABA’s priority is to ensure we have a pragmatic framework that compensates independent retailers as part of a supermarkets planning and 106 requirement actively and implementation by local authorities, with a clear appeal mechanism for all parties”
The Council has been invited to present is proposal to the LGA’s Environment, Economy, Housing and Transport Board in January and finally, the Council also confirms its intention to appeal the decision of the Secretary of State.